The declaration was announced around 11 a.m. Saturday, just before Christie held a news conference to discuss preparations for the storm. Christie had been campaigning in North Carolina before returning to New Jersey late Friday.
"We should not underestimate the impact of this storm and not assume the predictions will be wrong," Christie said during the storm briefing in Middletown, a municipality not far from the Jersey Coast. "We have to be prepared for the worst here. I can be as cynical as anyone, but when the storm comes, if it's as bad as they're predicting, you're going to wish you weren't as cynical as you otherwise might have been."
The storm has forced several school closings in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, the Cumberland County Technical Education Center will be closed on Monday. And Gibson's Kids Town Childcare in New Jersey will also be closed on Monday.
The state's office of emergency management has been activated and mandatory evacuations were ordered for South Jersey's barrier islands from Sandy Hook to Cape May, including Atlantic City, Brigantine, Longport, Margate and Ventnor to be completed by 4:00 p.m. Sunday. People at Atlantic City's casinos were also told to leave by 4:00 p.m. Sunday.
There will be no further access into these towns after 4:00 p.m. Sunday until further notice.
Officials say shelters will be set up in 18 counties to accommodate roughly 12,000 people and, if needed, the state will mobilize five shelters to house another 5,000 people. Christie urged residents to stay indoors while the slow-moving storm makes its way through the state.
Atlantic County plans to open five shelters for evacuees from the barrier islands on Sunday in cooperation with the Red Cross.
Shelters will open on Sunday morning around 8:00 a.m.
Shelters in Atlantic County will be located as follows:
General Population Shelters
Pleasantville High School
701 Mill Road
Pleasantville Middle School 801 Mill Road
Pet Friendly Shelters – animals must in carriers or on leashes with a supply of food and necessities
Buena Middle School
175 Weymouth Road
Buena Regional High School
125 Weymouth Road
Medical Needs Shelter (Pet Friendly)
Restricted to those who need continuous supervised medical care
St. Augustine Preparatory High School
611 Cedar Avenue, Richland
The Cape May County Office of Emergency Management announced that shelters will be open starting Sunday, October 28th for residents evacuating from the Barrier Islands and Bayside communities in Cape May County. Official encourage residents to call their local Office of Emergency Management for instructions before heading to a shelter.
Shelters in Cape May County:
Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Strathmere residents will be directed to:
Upper Township Middle School 525 Perry Road in the Petersburg section of Upper Township, N.J.
Upper Township Elementary School
50 Old Tuckahoe Road
Marmora, New Jersey
Residents in Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood, West Wildwood, Cape May, West Cape May and Cape May Point:
Woodbine Developmental Center
located at 1175 DeHirsch Road
Woodbine, New Jersey
An animal shelter will open in Lower Township at Noon on Sunday, October 28th at 409 Breakwater Road, Tomwar Building in the Cape May County Airport Complex. Officials say other animal sheltering trailers will be set up at two other locations in the county. The number to call for information is 609-465-1619 ext. 201.
Official encourage residents to call their local Office of Emergency Management for instructions.
Christie said it was too soon to decide whether state offices would be closed on Monday or Tuesday, or whether to cancel Halloween trick-or-treating. But Christie said he had canceled a campaign trip to Nevada that was scheduled for Tuesday.
Christie was criticized for vacationing in Florida with his family while a snowstorm pummeled the state in 2010. But he gained fame the following year for telling New Jerseyans to "Get the hell off the beach" as Hurricane Irene approached.